Pizza Robot Company Stellar Draws Engineers From SpaceX
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Pizza Robot Company Stellar Draws Engineers From SpaceX

Dec 13, 2023

The Stellar Pizza truck with its onboard robot.

Sarah McBride

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Early in the pandemic, Jaya Iyer began seriously considering a career change. By that point, she had two degrees in mechanical engineering and eight years of experience working in aerospace. Iyer, the lead spacecraft structures engineer at a subsidiary of Boeing Co., consulted with someone she had worked with at SpaceX, Elon Musk's rocket company. Her friend suggested she get in touch with their former colleague Benson Tsai, who’d been tapping some of the bright minds from the company and other aerospace firms around Los Angeles to solve a novel technical challenge.

When Iyer was at Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Tsai was developing battery technology for the company's satellites and spacecraft. Now he makes pizza. Perplexed and a little intrigued, Iyer agreed to a meeting. "It was outlandish to the point where, ‘Please, tell me more,’ " she says. Tsai regaled her with his vision of a robot on wheels capable of making a pizza from scratch. Someone would drive the truck to an office park, shopping center or residential area; customers would order through an app; and the robot would do the rest. Tsai had already persuaded venture capitalists—a group that would soon include a firm run by Jay-Z—to invest millions of dollars. He’d assembled a team of 40 or so rocket scientists and other technologists to, as Tsai describes it, "solve pizza."